Everyone has heard the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’, not something I subscribe to and, quite apart from anything else, it’s so 1980’s, which is exactly when it was first coined. Our understanding of how to work the body effectively has moved on a lot since Jane Fonda showed us how to be fit in 1982, and that understanding has blown the cover of a number of fitness myths. But there are still quite a few misconceptions, and below are 5 of the top myths which need to be consigned to the rogues’ gallery
I need exercises to work my ‘lower abs’ and reduce my pot belly.
There is no such thing as ‘lower abs.’ The so called six pack is actually one long muscle, called the rectus abdominis which extends from the sternum to the pelvis. Doing crunches won’t cut it in your quest for a lean abdomen – in order to see the abdominal muscles, you must reduce your body fat.
To work your abs, you should do exercises which target four muscles: the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques and the transverse Abdominis.
If I’m not sore the next day, I didn’t work hard enough.
Many people use muscle soreness as a gauge of how good their workout is, but it’s caused by tiny tears in the muscle fibres. Some soreness is to be expected if your programme is changed regularly, but being sore for days after your workout can be a sign that you overdid it. If you’re sore after every workout then you’re not allowing your body time to recover adequately.
In order to reduce soreness, you should warm up before your workout and stretch after your workout. Also ensure that you gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over a period of time; don’t start all guns blazing.
If I can’t work out often enough or hard enough then it’s not worth doing.
Some people don’t have a lot of time to do ‘formal’ exercise, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it’s not worth doing anything. But remember, any exercise is better than none, and being active is proven to reduce stress and make you healthier.
As a Personal Trainer, I coach my clients on a one to one basis, and teach a variety of exercises which work large muscle groups, and can be adapted to effective shorter workouts for when time is at a premium either at home, or travelling on business.
Strength training will make me “bulk up”
Women especially can avoid weight training because they don’t want to bulk up, but strength training is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and strengthening your body.
Most women don’t have the hormonal make up to significantly build muscle, and even men can have a hard time if they want to gain muscle mass. Sufficeth to say, it takes an advantageous genetic makeup, a lot of time and very hard work to attain a muscular look.
If I eat enough protein I can build big muscles
This follows nicely on from myth number 4 – it’s not as simple as that.
Building muscle mass involves two things: Using enough weight to challenge muscles, and eating more calories than you burn.
High protein diets, and shakes are much hyped, but muscles need the nutrients from carbohydrates, fats and protein. Consuming too much protein can lead to a nutrient deficiency and, more seriously, significant physiological issues.
In order to gain muscle mass you should incorporate a healthy eating plan, as well as a workout which combines cardio as well as consistent weight training.
So don’t always believe what you read or see and, if you’re in any doubt, always ask your friendly fitness professional who can confirm as true, or dispel the myth.